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Ravens Release Veteran Returner Devin Hester


The Ravens have waived veteran special teams returner Devin Hester Sr. after he made another mistake in Monday night's 30-23 loss to the New England Patriots.

Hester, 34, has not fielded the ball confidently on many occasions this season, and the latest gaffe led to two points for the Patriots.

After the Ravens defense held the Patriots to a second straight three-and-out to start the game, the Patriots punted to Hester. He had time to make a fair catch, but moved out of the way, allowing the ball to bounce and roll to the 1-yard line.

The Ravens tried to run the ball off their goal line, but running back Kenneth Dixon was dropped in the end zone for a safety. Suddenly, the Patriots were leading, 2-0, and their offense hadn't gone anywhere.

"It's one of those instances where I'm reacting to one of my teammates being close to the ball," Hester said. "My first instinct was to clear everybody out of there. If it hit him, it could have been a turnover."

Hester has shied away from punts throughout the year, and has had ball security issues.

Early on, he said it was because hamstring injuries limited his mobility and practice reps. He attributed it to not getting enough work to feel comfortable. But Hester hasn't been on the injury report since the bye at the start of November, and has still made mistakes.

Hester has five fumbles (one lost) and averaged 7.2 yards per punt return with just two returns over 20 yards. He was better on kickoff returns, where he averaged 24.5 yards per return.

It was a difficult assignment for Hester, who had to jump into action after a long time on the shelf. Hester was released by the Atlanta Falcons after he had offseason toe surgery, and the Ravens signed the veteran just before the start of the regular season.

If no other team picks up Hester, it would be the end of his illustrious career. The four-time Pro Bowler (2006, 2007, 2010, 2014) holds an NFL-record 20 return touchdowns, including 14 punt return touchdowns.

The Ravens need to find a new kickoff and punt returner, and the man for the job could be Michael Campanaro. Baltimore has not made any official move to bring the wide receiver/return specialist up from the practice squad, but he suggested it would happen on Twitter.

The Ravens also made two other roster moves Tuesday afternoon, as they placed running back Lorenzo Taliaferro (thigh) on injured reserve and signed inside linebacker Lamar Louis.

Each of Taliaferro's three NFL seasons have ended with him on injured reserve. Both previous times were due to foot injuries. He hardly saw any action this season. He played in three games and had one rush for 0 yards and three catches for 10 yards.

Louis is an undrafted rookie who first signed with the Arizona Cardinals before bouncing to the New Orleans Saints, who released him last week.

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